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San Diego Film Fest Honors Annette Bening, Jason Mitchell, Simon Helberg and Kate Beckinsale

Annette Bening, Jason Mitchell, Simon Helberg,
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Annette Bening
The Gregory Peck Award
The actress may have been born in Topeka, Kans. , and grown up in San Diego, where she’ll receive her award this year, but she’s long been Hollywood royalty and is a four-time Academy Award nominee, and a two-time Golden Globe and SAG winner. And at an age when most of her peers have either slowed down, are struggling to find meaty roles, or contemplating retirement, Bening is busier than ever. In the next few months alone she has three high-profile, female-centric projects. In November she stars opposite husband Warren Beatty in his Howard Hughes romantic drama “Rules Don’t Apply” for Fox. In December she stars in another period piece, A24’s “20th Century Women,” directed by Mike Mills.  She’ll also be starring as Irina in the upcoming Michael Mayer adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play “The Seagull,” and she just completed production on Paul McGuigan’s “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” in which she plays Gloria Grahame. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be receiving the award,” she says. “Peck was a giant in our industry, and he and his family have done much to contribute to the cultural landscape of our community.”

Jason Mitchell
Rising Star Award
The 29-year-old actor from New Orleans has steadily been building a reputation as a face to watch, thanks to small but potent roles in such films as 2012’s “Contraband” and 2013’s “Broken City,” both of which starred Mark Wahlberg. But his promising career got turbo-charged when he was cast as iconic and trailblazing rapper Eazy-E in Universal’s acclaimed 2015 N.W.A biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” directed by F. Gary Gray. Beating out more established names for the coveted role, Mitchell channeled both his musical genius and his turbulent personal life. His inspired performance won him the African-American Film Critics Assn. Award for supporting actor. Since then, he’s appeared in “Keanu” with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and indie crime thriller “Vincent N Roxxy.” Next year, he’ll be seen starring in a co-lead role in “Kong: Skull Island” for Warner Bros and Legendary opposite Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larsen. “I’m so excited to be receiving the award,” says Mitchell. “I never thought I’d receive such amazing success so quickly.”

Simon Helberg
The Auteur Award
Over the course of 16 years, 20 films, and 20 TV shows, Helberg has established himself as a versatile talent both in front of and behind the camera. The actor, writer, and director most recently received rave reviews for his starring role as anxious pianist Cosme McMoon opposite Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Stephen Frears’ “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Frears reports that the film’s composer, Alexandre Desplat, told him “not to cast anyone as Cosme if they weren’t a really good pianist … Simon really can play well, so he was perfect.” Helberg is best known as nerdy Howard Wolowitz in the CBS long-running hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory.” As a filmmaker, he made his feature directorial debut in 2015 with “We’ll Never Have Paris,” which premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Tex. Helberg wrote the script, stars as the lead, and co-directed the film with his wife, writer-director Jocelyn Towne. Helberg says, “I think it was me who once said awards are meaningless. This was, of course, before I had won any awards. Now I know they are everything.”

Kate Beckinsale
Cinema Vanguard Award
The versatile English actress received raves for her biting performance as the flirtatious and manipulative Lady Susan Vernon in Whit Stillman’s period drama “Love and Friendship,” based on Jane Austen’s novel “Lady Susan.” And she just wrapped “Underworld: Blood Wars,” the fifth installment of the sci-fi fantasy franchise. The film, set for release by Screen Gems in early January, follows the next generation of Vampires and Lycans. Beckinsale began in British costume dramas (“Emma”). After she moved to Hollywood in the late ‘90s, her career took off with such pics as “Pearl Harbor.” Since then, she’s built up an eclectic resume that includes sci-fi comedy “Absolutely Anything,” with the late Robin Williams; “Total Recall,” opposite Colin Farrell; “Everybody’s Fine” with Robert De Niro; and Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” Beckinsale says the award “after the absolute privilege of working a second time with the wildly talented Whit Stillman, who was the very first director to invite me to American cinema, is incredibly special and touching to me.”

(Pictured, from left: Annette Bening, Jason Mitchell, Simon Helberg, Kate Beckinsale)